Allegory of the cave: poetic tribute to the dilemma of false wisdom ⇒ Stephen Dunn, F. Lenzi, Jonathan and Raj Nandy

Reader’s prologue:
Today’s post dedicated to the memoir of Plato’s most controversial and allegorical dialogues about the false perception of belief and wisdom. We try to memorize the cave’s allegory of “Republic” again in poetic context, albeit Plato was displeased about the impact of poets in the society and exiled them from his Ideal Republic. Anyway, Plato himself certainly was more than a poet and rhetorical in his dialogue or symposium. His idealistic philosophy is yet not dead and irrelevant, despite its ambiguous obscurity to the Ideal form of Reality.
English philosopher Alfred North Whitehead once commented that the entire western philosophy in a sense “a footnote to Plato.” His comment maybe bit exaggerated but it also the fact that we still love to read, deny, debate and commenting on Plato’s allegorical dialogues. There are lot ways to think and imagine his poetic rhetoric and my selected names tried to do this by their perception and inception to imagine them in a cave.
Readers have freedom to deny the poetic visions and even they have choice of addition more controversy to the cave’s allegory, because this allegory still signify the topical confusion that we are more-or-less living in a cave today and yet searching the meaning that “what true knowledge should be.”

Allegory of the Cave by Stephen Dunn 

He climbed toward the blinding light
and when his eyes adjusted
he looked down and could see

his fellow prisoners captivated
by shadows; everything he had believed
was false. And he was suddenlyin the 20th century, in the sunlight
and violence of history, encumbered
by knowledge. Only a hero
would dare return with the truth.
So from the cave’s upper reaches,
removed from harm, he called outthe disturbing news.
What lovely echoes, the prisoners said,
what a fine musical place to live.
He spelled it out, then, in clear prose
on paper scraps, which he floated down.
But in the semi-dark they read his words
with the indulgence of those who seldom read:
It’s about my father’s death, one of them said.
No, said the others, it’s a joke.
By this time he no longer was sure
of what he’d seen. Wasn’t sunlight a shadow too?
Wasn’t there always a source
behind a source? He just stood there,
confused, a man who had moved
to larger errors, without a prayer.
(Originally published on year 1990 at Famous Poets and
Read more about the poem please click: 
Allegory of the Cave by Paul F. Lenzi

does authority shackle us
in a shadow world of half-truths
cast before us by unseen fire

is enlightenment after all
merely the selfsame illusions
by different inadequate light

can the sunlit unfettered few
convince us the world offers more
than dark reflections from the pyre

between truth and perception are
distortions imposed by those who
prefer we have ignorant sight

Paul F. Lenzi

(Originally published on January 2013 at Paul F. Lenzi‘s blog Poesy Plus


Out From Plato’s Cave by  Jonathan

I was sitting there, fitting of chain tight,

staring, glaring at shadows on the wall,
Some short and some tall but all the same,
With other men and women, ten years or ten
Hundred; what does it matter when batter
Of life is to sit and stare at an otherwise
Bare cave wall with shadows that never fall.

Lo and behold! Someone told me I was free!
No more shackles tore at ankles and arms,
And there could be no harm in standing and
Looking round at where I’d been bound for
So long; where no one belongs and ne’er is
Sung sweet song; now I took careful steps,
With nothing to fret, no net set for trap.

Tis no joke; I was no longer yoked to other
Cave dwellers — brothers and sisters, and
Mothers and fathers — and so I explored,
And nothing bored in any new discovery in
Recovery of freedom I’d never known, seeing
What I’d never been shown: fires burning
On pyres for those who’d lived too long
Where they never belonged; now I could see
What better women and men we could be …

Something new, yet not new, caught my eye,
And I said ‘good-bye’ to cave and so began
Walking toward another light, much brighter,
Stalking the strange creatures who featured
Shadows on the far wall, and I heard an eerie
Call beyond the fiery pyres beckoning me
To respond to an opening that spawned
Brighter light in sight but out of the cave.

Knave I may have been, but how could I help
But crave such bright light, even in fright;
I knew no difference twixt the day and night;
I could only say a prayer and fight my way
To yawning of the cave, toward the dawning
Of new and strange radiance of luminescence,
Calling, but in such power to make me cower.

I reached the opening, stepped outside and
Quickly looked to hide, and no one in whom
To confide; blinding beauty of another world
Into which I’d just been hurled, and so good
As I stood there, bathing in the sun, which
Had only begun to shine on brand new day;
What could I do but stay; I’d found another
Way ~ inside the world, but outside the cave!

Then it struck me to tell my former company,
To pluck up the courage to go back to spread
Such grand news that all is not dead, that we
Might be fed in the land of the living under
Another brighter, mightier light that did more
Than eat corpses and beat shadows on the wall;
And so I turned back with no lack of conviction,
No friction in heart; I’d found the better part!

So did I descended again into the gloom and doom
To rouse my companions from their house of rock;
To led them to higher grounds and better sounds,
But … oh no! They shocked me as they locked
Up their hearts, bound their minds to the sound
Of my voice as if I were a raving lunatic craving
Another easy meal, if I could only peel them away
From the safety of the cave haven; craven fools!

And I could not find the words to unbind their

Souls, and free them from earthen bowl where
Surely they were dying without even trying to
Stand and walk; their talk was but a cheap heap
Of lies, but they didn’t realize the utter size
Of their fool’s pride; they would simply continue
To hide away in bay of dim-lit cave, and I … I
Only wanted to save, to save them from the cave.


(Originally published on Jonathan‘s Awake, O Sleeper, and Shine blog)


Plato’s allegory of the cave ! By Raj Nandy

In his seventh book of the famous ‘Republic’,
Plato narrates his Cave Allegory!
Plight of those prisoners inside the cave,
With their head fixed and limbs all chained!
They could only see the shadows on the front
of the cave wall,
Of various images of moving life forms!
Illuminated by a burning fire from behind,
A silhouette continuous show on the walls they
could find!
But when a prisoner breaks loose, to face the
sunlight of enlightenment outside,
He momentarily remains blinded by its light!
He rushes back to tell others about ‘true reality’,
But they get angered hearing about his newly
acquired discovery!
Preferring their ignorance of the cave, –
Taking those shadowy images for truth, –
As their real life story, which made them feel
good !

Plato’s allegory of the cave is not a spiritual
But about the process of acquiring knowledge
and learning!
Those ‘prisoners’ in the cave represents society,
The ‘fire’ burning behind, – their imperfect
knowledge and idiocy!
The ‘dazzling sun’ outside the cave as true
enlightenment, – ‘the good’;
For all philosophers seeking ‘true knowledge’ as
they always should!
And those ‘chains’ are the fetters of our mind, –
Our ignorance, prejudices and inhibitions, all
of mental kind!
About which those ‘chained prisoners’ had not
the slightest notion,
And Plato narrates his philosophic views without
Plato’s ‘sun’ represents his ‘ideal forms’, his
concept of ‘ultimate good’,
Which centuries later St Augustine, –

Had interpreted as God divine!
Which the medieval world finally understood !

Look at our society today, being led astray,
By commercialized men and greedy politicians,
With their narrow parochial and vested interests!
Let us also not try to grab all things all at once, –
Which our parents and elders in the past,
And taken years to build, to make things last!
With plethora of ‘tempting loans’ and materialistic
Aping ‘advanced nations’ may only lead to bad
debts one day!
Let us not take those ‘shadowy images’ for truth ;
With resilience of mind, our spiritual bindings,
and fortitude!
All seekers of truth and enlightenment since
centuries past,
Have been cursed, imprisoned, killed or despised ;
Yet truth does prevail to last !
For seekers of truth shall forever seek to find,
And dare to show the righteous path , –
to our misguided mankind!

picture of RAJ NANDY

(Originally published on 10 August 2010 at Raj Nandy‘s blog Poet

Marble statue of the ancient greek philosopher Plato

Photo credit:  Celia PhotographyBerto Meister;;

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